More on ECUA water quality

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A constituent recently emailed myself and other City Council members concerning recent reports about ECUA water quality (see the email below). In response, City Manager Al Coby advised me that ECUA Director Steve Sorrell will appear before the City Council at our January 11 committee meetings to make a presentation.

I will, of course, continue to do everything possible to ensure the best water quality possible and encourage ECUA to resolve any issues that may exist.

The constituent's email:


I have lived in Pensacola for over 46 years and at one time, we did have the purest water in the state. As a pharmacist, we told our mother's to use the tap water in their baby's antibiotics when mixing, because the water was so good.

What an embarrassment for all of us who take pride in our city to see the way things have degraded, air, pollution, sick bays, PCU's and now chemicals that you have allowed in our wells, just because the EPA hasn't taken the time or initiative to set guidelines and limits for all these chemicals yet. So, since you are not legally bound by law to follow set guidelines, you are giving your neighbors, friends, and citizens dozens upon dozens of chemicals through our water that humans are not supposed to take into their bodies. You are supposed to protect us and our health!

I demand that you publish for all to read, the list of chemicals and pollutants, and their strengths for each well, so that each person can decide for themselves if they want to place these unregulated chemicals into their bodies. Pensacola has a high number of scientific, medical, and educated people that will take the time to investigate something so important as the purity of life giving water. We have a legal and moral right to know what goes into our bodies.

And to our elected officials; why are you not protecting your constituency from one of the most basic rights a citizen has; to trust in the water one drinks not to cause harm.

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Roger Scott clay courts to open

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm happy to report that the Roger Scott Tennis Center will debut its new clay courts on January 8.


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Large tree on Creighton Road

Recently, a resident contacted me about a large tree on Creighton Road that was apparently removed by the Florida Department of Transportation in the course of improvements to that road. I contacted Mr. Jim DeVries at FDOT about the issue. He responded:


Larry, I have talked with Kelli Baxley, our project manager and she is getting a
written response from the design engineer. If you have it put on a TPO agenda I will try to have our district design engineer there to explain the design and SAFETY considerations that must be considered when we are working on the state system. If you have any questions please give me a call. I will provide you the designers explanation as soon as I receive it.


I look forward to the response and have requested that this item be placed on the agenda for the next TPO meeting.


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Latest from Emerald Coastkeeper

Please see the latest from Emerald Coastkeeper:

As many of you have read in both the Pensacola News Journal as well as the New York Times, Pensacola's drinking water is ranked the lowest in the country. Emerald Coastkeeper is appalled by this report, but wants you to know there are many ways to read these types of reports. Our Emerald Coastkeeper, Chasidy Hobbs, has written a viewpoint that we have included at the bottom of this email for those of you who are interested in Emerald Coastkeeper's position.

It is incredibly important that Pensacola's citizens and those of us served by E.C.U.A. take the time to make our concerns and thoughts known. One way to do this is to take a few minutes of your time and write an email or write a letter to your City Council, E.C.U.A., Escambia County Commissioners and other elected officials expressing your concerns. We have all the email addresses listed at the bottom of this email for those of you who would like to take a more active role in this issue.

Emerald Coastkeeper is hosting a Member Meeting on Wednesday, January 13th at Dharma Blue at 5:30. Though we had planned to focus on the issue of offshore drilling at this meeting, we are prepared to discuss any issues or concerns you may have about our water quality in Northwest Florida. Chasidy is excited to meet our members, and to learn what ways we can best serve you! Dharma Blue is located at 300 S. Alcaniz St. in downtown Pensacola.

If you have any last minute stocking stuffer needs, please consider giving the gift of water advocacy to your friends and family this year. Emerald Coastkeeper memberships start as low as $25. Please email us at info@emeraldcoastkeeper.org to ask us about this special offer. We can send out our brochure and a welcome note to anyone you choose, and you can send the check in at your convenience.

Emerald Coastkeeper's 2010 Gala is coming up on Saturday, February 20th, from 6:30-9. We will have auctions, music, food, a cash bar- the works! Tickets will be $30 per person, $50 per couple. By purchasing a ticket, you are supporting Emerald Coastkeeper's fight for cleaner water. Last year we had over 300 attendees, it is always a great party for a wonderful cause! The Gala will be at the Sanders Beach Community Center in Pensacola located at 913 South I. Street in Pensacola. If you are interested in volunteering your time, please email us at info@emeraldcoastkeeper.org.

Another fabulous upcoming event is Hands Across the Sand. This event is free and open to the public. Bring your friends, family and neighbors. Come show you do not support offshore drilling. We will all join on Pensacola Beach at the pier and hold hands across the sand showing we want to keep our beaches oil-free! Hands Across the Sand is on Saturday, February 13th, 2010. We will be at the pier starting at 11:00 a.m. and will leave at 1:00 p.m. The official time to hold hands is 12:30 CST.

EMERALD COASTKEEPER CHASIDY HOBBS' VIEWPOINT ON TAP WATER:

I drink filtered tap water; I am not fooled by the myth that bottled water is safer (in fact it is far less regulated than tap water!) I was, therefore, disturbed to read a report which ranked our drinking water at the very bottom of a national list for drinking water quality.
The Environmental Working Group recently analyzed nearly 20 million water quality records obtained from 45 states and the District of Columbia over a three year period. They found 316 pollutants in tap water throughout the United States; over half of these pollutants are not regulated by the EPA. What this means is that these unregulated chemicals can legally be present at any amounts in our drinking water.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, non-partisan team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers whose sole mission is to shed light on environmental and human health issues. EWG rated "big city (population over 250,000)" water utilities based on three factors: 1. the total number of chemicals found between 2004 and 2008; 2. the percentage of chemicals found of those tested; and 3. the highest average level for an individual pollutant.

Our water ranked 100th on the list of 100 largest utilities rated; that is dead last. EWG found 45 chemicals in ECUA provided drinking water (the national average was 8!); only 13 of those 45 pollutants are naturally occurring; the others are from industry, agriculture, urbanism, etc.
This information has confused many ECUA customers. Didn't they just win an award for their water quality? Actually, yes, they did. ECUA won "Best Tasting Water", three times actually. And, ECUA did not have a single drinking water quality standard violation during the period of the EWG study.

In fact, ECUA has done an excellent job as stewards of our water resources including being a big proponent of moving the Main Street wastewater treatment plant away from Pensacola Bay. They have diligently provided what EPA deems to be safe and healthy drinking water to their customers.

So, why the contradiction between ECUA reports and the EWG report? Frankly, there isn't one. ECUA's response to the EWG report is like saying the sky is blue because birds fly. Both are true.

The purpose of EWG's study was not to panic communities into thinking their drinking water was poisoned. The point was to shed light on the following facts: 1. there are hundreds of chemicals being discharged into the environmental which did not exist when EPA created drinking water standards; 2. there are dozens of chemicals in our drinking water which we have no idea what the safe limits are; 3. these chemicals are in our water legally and utilities are under no obligation to report them to us; and, most importantly 4. EPA must do a better job at protecting and regulating our drinking water, period.

If there are no health limits for particular chemicals found in drinking water then there are no legal standards for them either. This means that utilities can legally call the water they deliver safe and healthy regardless of how much of each unregulated chemical is delivered along with that water. The state of Florida and ECUA are under no legal obligation to remove these chemicals from our water or even to tell us they present. They also are under no obligation to wait for the EPA to begin removing these chemicals from our water; of course then you would have resist complaining about paying more for the only thing you cannot live without for more than a week. Remember, you get what you pay for.

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Larry Caton memorial dedication

Friday, December 18, 2009

Join friends and family members as a Memorial Plaque will be dedicated to the memory of Larry Caton on Monday, December 28th at Bayview Park Tennis Courts, starting at 3:30pm.

For many long-time Pensacola area tennis players, Larry Caton was synonymous with the Bayview Park Tennis Courts. His presence as both teacher and player was an almost daily occurrence for 50 years. Although an accomplished Nation Level Junior, Collegian and Adult Competitor, Larry was willing to share a tennis court at Bayview with virtually anyone at any level of play. His sense of humor and spirit of camaraderie made him a joy to be around – most of the time! For Bayview Tennis regulars, Larry will be forever missed. Larry passed away on February 25th, 2009. For more information, contact the Pensacola Parks and Recreation Department at 436-5670 or visit www.playpensacola.com.

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Bayview Park Flea Market

I'm pleased to say that beginning in March, Bayview Park will host a weekly Saturday flea market. The weekly market will run through September. Thanks to our Parks & Recreation Department for this exciting program.

Vendors needed! For $10 a day or $65 for the entire season (1st Saturday of
the month March-September) tables will be available for vendors to set up and
display merchandise to sale to the public in Bayview Park. If you are interested
in becoming a vendor please call Addie Quina at 436-5190 or e-mail at aquina@ci.pensacola.fl.us

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ECUA water quality

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

By now, many of you have probably heard about a report claiming Pensacola's tap water (from ECUA) ranked last in water quality out of 100 water systems across the country.

You can read more about the report at Yahoo Green. Local media has also started reporting on the issue.

I have asked City Manager Al Coby to see how the City of Pensacola can help improve this situation. Also, the City Council plans to ask ECUA to send a representative to an upcoming council meeting to address the report. The Emerald Coastkeepers are also aware of this issue.

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Bayou Boulevard work postponed

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Resurfacing work on Bayou Boulevard was set to begin next week. Unfortunately, the contractor and FDOT have decided, for several reasons, to push the project back until after the New Year. I am disappointed in the delay but hopeful that this long-needed work on an important roadway will be completed soon.

Please see the below email from the contractor:

Mr. Johnson,

The schedule for the milling and resurfacing on Bayou Blvd. has been changed. Due to the current weather conditions and patterns along with the close proximity to Cordova Mall the start date will be pushed out until this first week after New Years. After meeting with FDOT we decided this would be better time frame than what we had looked at before due to the additional traffic prior to Christmas in this area. This should cause the least inconvenience to the traveling public. I will keep you informed and provide you an updated schedule after the first of the year.

Regards,
Butch

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Bayview Park lights

Last week, I was made aware of an issue with non-working lights at Bayview Park, and asked the Parks and Recreation Department to look into it. Mr. Charles Morgan of Parks and Recreation reported to Mr. David Flaherty, the Director of Parks and Recreation the below email. I have also asked Mr. Al Coby, City Manager, to put the repairs into the next fiscal year budget.

David,


We have looked into this problem earlier and have determined the problem to be shorts or breaks in the underground electrical wiring to these lights. To repair or replace the wiring will require the excavation of the parking lot and the estimated cost will be $20,000. as funding was not available in the present budget to address this problem it is our intent to ask for the funding in the upcoming 2011 budget.


Thanks, Charlie


In the future, if anyone sees any problems in District 4, please let me know at ljohnson@ci.pensacola.fl.us so that I can make sure they are addressed.

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Roger Scott pool progress

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Here's the latest update from Parks & Recreation director David Flaherty on the upgrades to the pool at Roger Scott Athletic Complex:

The Roger Scott Pool PFP project is going out to bid next week. Allowing time for selection and approval of a contractor by Council, the project should be under construction by late January, early Feb. Completion of the project is planned for end of April, early May. The pool will re-open on Memorial Day 2010.

While the three month construction time may seem to be a short time frame, the major construction components of the project are to raise the diving tank from 12 feet to 3.5 feet, remove the existing concrete decking and to replace with new concrete decking.

All other components of the project are not that difficult (construction wise) and should easily be installed within the planned time frame.

For example, the water slide is a pre-constructed item of equipment, shipped to the site and then put together very much like a playground structure. The building of the waterside when placed on site would be no more than a week or so.

The other components of the project are not difficult in nature to install. They include deck shade covers, piping for the water spray features and the installation of a sand filter tank which will be purchased and installed near the renovated dive tank.

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MSW Source Reduction, Recycling, and Composting

Please take a minute to read the following from Mary Gutierrez with the West Florida Regional Planning Council. Her message contains some valuable tips on how we can all reduce our environmental impact.

Source reduction: Altering the design, manufacture, or use of products and materials to reduce the amount and toxicity of what gets thrown away. Between 1960 and 2008 the amount of waste each person creates has almost doubled from 2.7 to 4.5 pounds per day. The most effective way to stop this trend is by preventing waste in the first place.

Waste prevention, also know as "source reduction," is the practice of designing, manufacturing, purchasing, or using materials (such as products and packaging) in ways that reduce the amount or toxicity of trash created. Reusing items is another way to stop waste at the source because it delays or avoids that item's entry in the waste collection and disposal system.

Source reduction, including reuse, can help reduce waste disposal and handling costs, because it avoids the costs of recycling, municipal composting, landfilling, and combustion. Source reduction also conserves resources and reduces pollution, including greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. More specifically, Source Reduction refers to any change in the design, manufacture, purchase, or use of materials or products (including packaging) to reduce their amount or toxicity before they become municipal solid waste. Source reduction also refers to the reuse of products or materials.

Source Reduction and Reuse Facts
More than 55 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were source reduced in the United States in 2000, the latest year for which these figures are available. Containers and packaging represented approximately 28 percent of the materials source reduced in 2000, in addition to nondurable goods (e.g., newspapers, clothing) at 17 percent, durable goods (e.g., appliances, furniture, tires) at 10 percent, and other MSW (e.g., yard trimmings, food scraps) at 45 percent.

There are more than 6,000 reuse centers around the country, ranging from specialized programs for building materials or unneeded materials in schools to local programs such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army, according to the Reuse Development Organization. Between two and five percent of the waste stream is potentially reusable according to local studies in Berkeley, California, and Leverett, Massachusetts.

Since 1977, the weight of 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles has been reduced from 68 grams each to 51 grams. That means that 250 million pounds of plastic per year has been kept out of the waste stream.

Benefits of Reduction
Saves natural resources. Waste is not just created when consumers throw items away. Throughout the life cycle of a product from extraction of raw materials to transportation to processing and manufacturing facilities to manufacture and use waste is generated. Reusing items or making them with less material decreases waste dramatically. Ultimately, less materials will need to be recycled or sent to landfills or waste combustion facilities.
Reduces toxicity of waste. Selecting nonhazardous or less hazardous items is another important component of source reduction. Using less hazardous alternatives for certain items (e.g., cleaning products and pesticides), sharing products that contain hazardous chemicals instead of throwing out leftovers, reading label directions carefully, and using the smallest amount necessary are ways to reduce waste toxicity.

Reduces costs. The benefits of preventing waste go beyond reducing reliance on other forms of waste disposal. Preventing waste also can mean economic savings for communities, businesses, schools, and individual consumers.

Communities. More than 7,000 communities have instituted "pay-as-you-throw" programs where citizens pay for each can or bag of trash they set out for disposal rather than through the tax base or a flat fee. When these households reduce waste at the source, they dispose of less trash and pay lower trash bills.

Businesses. Industry also has an economic incentive to practice source reduction. When businesses manufacture their products with less packaging, they are buying less raw material. A decrease in manufacturing costs can mean a larger profit margin, with savings that can be passed on to the consumer.

Consumers. Consumers also can share in the economic benefits of source reduction. Buying products in bulk, with less packaging, or that are reusable (not single-use) frequently means a cost savings. What is good for the environment can be good for the pocketbook as well.

Recycling: Sorting, collecting, and processing materials to manufacture and sell them as new products. Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting used bottles, cans, and newspapers and taking them to the curb or to a collection facility is just the first in a series of steps that generates a host of financial, environmental, and social returns. Some of these benefits accrue locally as well as globally.

Benefits of Recycling

  • Recycling protects and expands U.S. manufacturing jobs and increases U.S. competitiveness.
  • Recycling reduces the need for landfilling and incineration.
  • Recycling prevents pollution caused by the manufacturing of products from virgin materials. Recycling saves energy.
  • Recycling decreases emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
  • Recycling conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
  • Recycling helps sustain the environment for future generations.

Steps to Recycling a Product
Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers, manufacturing raw materials into new products, and purchasing recycled products. Collecting and processing secondary materials, manufacturing recycled-content products, and then buying recycled products creates a circle or loop that ensures the overall success and value of recycling.

Step 1. Collection and Processing Collecting recyclables varies from community to community, but there are four primary methods: curbside, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit/refund programs.

Regardless of the method used to collect the recyclables, the next leg of their journey is usually the same. Recyclables are sent to a materials recovery facility to be sorted and prepared into marketable commodities for manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like any other commodity, and prices for the materials change and fluctuate with the market.

Step 2. Manufacturing Once cleaned and separated, the recyclables are ready to undergo the second part of the recycling loop. More and more of today's products are being manufactured with total or partial recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled materials include newspapers and paper towels; aluminum, plastic, and glass soft drink containers; steel cans; and plastic laundry detergent bottles. Recycled materials also are used in innovative applications such as recovered glass in roadway asphalt (glassphalt) or recovered plastic in carpeting, park benches, and pedestrian bridges.

Step 3. Purchasing Recycled ProductsPurchasing recycled products completes the recycling loop. By "buying recycled," governments, as well as businesses and individual consumers, each play an important role in making the recycling process a success. As consumers demand more environmentally sound products, manufacturers will continue to meet that demand by producing high-quality recycled products. Learn more about recycling terminology and to find tips on identifying recycled products.

Composting: Decomposing organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, with microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) to produce compost. Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants.

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Black Lab found in East Hill

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The East Hill Neighborhood Association forwarded me the following email:

Good morning!
I found a male black lab jogging down 12th around 5 am this morning. I picked him up at 12th & Mallory, right by Sacred Heart Church. If anyone knows who's dog this may be, please have them call me at 850-637-8161 so he can go home.

Thanks,
Renee

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Bayou Texar dredging

I received the following update from Al Garza, the City's Public Works director, on the Bayou Texar dredging project:

Councilman Johnson,

The Bayou Texar Channel Dredging Project is approximately 80% complete and it is anticipated that the work should be complete before the Christmas holidays with the exemption of channel marker pile. To date approximately 30,000 cubic yards of material of sand has been removed from subject channel area; thereby reestablishing the channel depth of 10 feet and an operational with of 60 feet at MLW. The addition of 15 channel marker piling between the CSX trestle and the Cervantes Street Bridge will greatly aid boaters with navigating the channel along with providing additional information with regard to subject area being a NO WAKE ZONE.
This very exciting project will open up the channel and should maximize the daily tidal exchange of water within Bayou Texar, improving overall water quality.

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Running for reelection

Monday, November 30, 2009

If you haven't already heard, I filed today to run for reelection as your District 4 representative on the Pensacola City Council. I'll kick off my campaign after the New Year, but I wanted to make my intentions known to my constituents.

It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Pensacola on the City Council for the past year, and I feel like we've accomplished a lot. We've implemented citywide recycling, expanded the Roger Scott tennis complex, and have worked to make our neighborhoods more family-friendly. But there's a lot more that we need to do. I want to keep working to develop our waterfront, create incentives for businesses to locate or expand here, and encourage sustainable growth and green building practices where possible.

I look forward to the campaign, and as always, feel free to contact me with your feedback and concerns.

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Charter ballots due November 24, please vote

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mail ballots for the city charter referendum are due back by November 24. If you vote in the next few days, you can drop it in the mail (return postage is already paid). If you don't vote until later this week or this weekend it may be better to hand-deliver your ballot to the Supervisor of Elections to ensure your vote is in by the deadline. Votes must be received by 7:00 PM on November 24 to be counted.

If you have lost your ballot you can get a new one at the Supervisor of Elections office. You can also print out and mail in a duplicate ballot request form, but with just a week left until the November 24 deadline, that may be cutting it close.

The Supervisor of Elections office is located at 213 Palafox Place in Downtown Pensacola. You can also reach the office by phone at (850) 595-3900.

I voted YES on the charter because I believe it makes some important and necessary changes and provides a good foundation for Pensacola's future.

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Bayou Texar Foundation update

I received this in the mail last week by Ms. Eleanor Godwin of the Bayou Texar Foundation. It concerns several ongoing efforts the Bayou Texar Foundation is currently working on with the Partnership for Community Programs (PCP) and others including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Ecosystem Restoration Program (FDEP ERS). Please see the below information. If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Godwin directly by phone at 850-433-6271 or email at egodwin17@bellsouth.net. We applaud Ms. Godwin and the Bayou Texar Foundation's efforts to improve our shorelines and water quality in Bayou Texar.



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Barnes & Nobles event

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I recently participated in a great event at the Barnes & Noble bookstore which served as a fundraiser for the new Tryon Branch Library and an opportunity for me to sit down and read to some area kids.
Thanks to everyone who came out to support our library system!

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Fire pension board opening

One seat on the Board of Trustees of the Firemen's Relief & Pension Fund is up for appointment. The incumbent is looking to be reappointed but the City Council is now accepting applications for nomination. If you have an interest in serving on this board, please complete an application, available on the city's web site, submit it to the city clerk, and then contact a City Council member for nomination.

Constituents can contact me at ljohnson@ci.pensacola.fl.us.

Below is the City Manager's memo to City Council members about this opening.

Nomination - Board of Trustees, Firemen's Relief & Pension Fund

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Status of Bayou Blvd resurfacing

Friday, October 16, 2009

Good news! The resurfacing of Bayou Boulevard from 12th Avenue to Firestone Boulevard is set to begin in mid-November. See the below email from Mr. Stephen Hunt of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT):

Councilman Johnson:

First let me apologize for any inconvenience the delayed start of the above referenced project may have caused. The Department strives to create and maintain accurate construction schedules, however; as discussed by phone today, there are many variables impacting the actual “shovel in the ground” date.

Currently, the Preconstruction Conference for this project is scheduled for October 28, 2009, with actual work beginning approximately 2 weeks later…..around November 12th.

Should you need additional assistance or if I can be of further service, please do not hesitate to call.

Stephen M. Hunt, P.E.
Milton Operations Engineer

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Charter comparisons

With the upcoming referendum on a new city charter, I just wanted to quickly post links to both the current city charter as well as the proposed new charter so that citizens could read both and make up their minds.

Current (1931) charter: http://www.ci.pensacola.fl.us/upload/images/PDFs/current-charter.pdf

Proposed new charter: http://www.cityofpensacola.com/upload/images/PDFs/chater-final-revised-approved.pdf

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Environmental Advisory Board opening

Friday, October 2, 2009

City Council will soon be filling a vacancy on the Environmental Advisory Board.

The Environmental Advisory Board provides policy advice and recommendations to City Council and staff.

The requirements for this seat are that the applicant be a city resident, and a member of a business organization.

If you are interested in serving on this board please complete an application, available on the city web site, turn it in to the city clerk, and then contact myself or another Council member for nomination. You can contact me at ljohnson@ci.pensacola.fl.us. Contact information for other Council members is located on the city web site.

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Publix at 9th and Bayou to open soon

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm very excited at the work being done at the site of the soon-to-open Publix supermarket at 9th Avenue and Bayou Boulevard (formerly Albertson's). Thanks to the efforts of City staff including Mr. Thaddeus Cohen, Publix has implemented several key improvements to that property, including the installation of trees and landscaping in the parking lot, and clearing of the on-site retention pond. These measures help mitigate stormwater runoff into the adjacent Carpenter's Creek.

Yesterday's Pensacola News Journal has a great story about the project:

Cohen said Publix is cleaning out the existing retention pond at the site, which had been in disrepair for many years.

The parking lot, which slopes south toward Carpenter Creek, is a major source of stormwater runoff. Without a fully functioning retention pond, the runoff becomes a major source of pollution for the creek, which feeds the headwaters of Bayou Texar.

"Getting that (retention pond) functioning again is very important," Cohen said.

Cohen said negotiations with Publix executives also resulted in the Lakeland-based company's decision to install trees and several rain gardens, or grassy islands, in the existing parking lot.
According to the story, Publix is hoping for an opening in early November.

It's great to see out-of-town developers come in and do a project right. On August 27, 2008, I wrote a letter to Publix as a member the Emerald Coastkeeper board, expressing concerns about some of the stormwater issues I mentioned above. I received a response from Mr. Clayton Hollis with Publix stating that they would be doing some landscaping and expressing Publix's willingness to work with the community. I would like to give a very big thank you to Publix for going above and beyond the minimum. Their improvements to the retention pond and parking area mean improvements in water quality in Carpenter's Creek, and then of course Bayou Texar.

Included below is a copy of my letter and Mr. Hollis' response.

PDF Letter to Publix


PDF Letter From Publix

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Council to make CMPA appointment

The Community Maritime Park Associates, Inc. (CMPA) Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the development and operation of the Community Maritime Park and is comprised of twelve (12) members. In accordance with the Master Development Agreement and Master Lease Agreement between the City of Pensacola and the CMPA the City is required to appoint one-third of the members of the Board of Directors for the CMPA not-for-profit organization.

At this time one (1) position requires appointment by City Council for a term of three (3) years (expiring October 30, 2012). Regular meetings are held monthly on the second Friday at City Hall.

ANYONE INTERESTED IN SERVING SHOULD CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK FOR AN APPLICATION OF INTEREST AND CONTACT A CITY COUNCIL MEMBER BY THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2009 (NOMINATION BY A COUNCIL MEMBER IS REQUIRED).

If you have any questions please contact the City Clerk's office at 435-1606.

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Project Greenshores cleanup

Friday, September 18, 2009

There is a cleanup scheduled for Saturday (tomorrow) morning from 7-11 A.M. at the Project Greenshores site on Bayfront Parkway. According to Penelope Bishop from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, if it is "pouring down rain" the event will be canceled, but if it is drizzling the cleanup will take place.

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What is stormwater runoff?

Monday, September 14, 2009

With the recent issue of stormwater assessments, I felt it was a good time to clarify what exactly stormwater runoff is, and why it's an important issue. Please see the following information from Mary Gutierrez at the West Florida Regional Planning Council:



What is stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain (or snowmelt) flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground.

Why is stormwater runoff a problem?
Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm water system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm water system is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water.

What you can do to reduce stormwater pollution:

  • SHOP WISELY – By products labeled biodegradable, non-toxic, non-phosphorus, or water soluble. WHY? …They readily decompose and will not pollute surface or ground water.
  • STORE PRODUCTS SAFELY – Keep toxic products in original containers, closed and clearly marked in safe storage places. WHY? ...To prevent spillage, which could reach ground or surface waters, and to prevent accidents with children or pets.
  • PROPERLY MAINTAIN SEPTIC SYSTEMS – Inspect systems regularly and have pumped out as needed. Avoid caustic cleaners, chemicals, or solvents and fats, oils and greases. WHY? …They might destroy waste-reducing bacteria or clog absorption fields, which could cause runoff of inadequately treated waste during rain storms to reach our ground or surface waters.
  • USE GARDEN AND LAWN CHEMICALS WISELY – Follow package directions carefully, and only use pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers when other methods fail. Do not apply if rain is in the forecast. (Or just plant native species). WHY? …. Excessive fertilizers and chemicals wash off the property and into surface and ground waters.
  • KEEP IRRIGATION WATER ON THE LAWN AND GARDEN (NOT ON PAVED SURFACES) – Divert rain spouts to unpaved areas or swales, and wash vehicles where water will drain to vegetated areas (Or use a rain barrel or create a rain garden). WHY? … This allows runoff to soak into the soil and not wash off the property into nearby waterbodies after picking up pollutants.
  • COMPOST LEAVES, GRASS AND SHRUB CLIPPINGS – Use these materials as mulch to supplement fertilizers. Do not rake these materials into roadways or swales. WHY? … These materials will decompose, returning nutrients to the soil so that you can use less fertilizer. If placed to roads or swales, yard debris will block drainage flows and end up in your nearest waterbodies.
  • DON’T DRAIN USED MOTOR OIL INTO STORM DRAINS – Take used motor oil and antifreeze to service stations to recycle them. WHY? ...These products are toxic and add pollutants to surface waters if placed or washed into storm drains.
  • SERVICE YOUR CAR REGULARLY – Have your care inspected and maintained regularly. WHY? … To prevent leakage of motor oil, antifreeze and other fluids that can end up in the nearest waterbody. Well maintained vehicles reduce air emissions that also can contaminate surface waters.

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Response from School District

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ron Peacock, the Director of the Facilities Planning Department for the School District, sent the following response to Chasidy Hobbs' email I posted earlier:

Ms Hobbs:

As Director of Facilities Planning for the school district, thank you for your interest in our proposed new "state of the art" elementary school that is being planned for the Pace Blvd site. This technology rich, LEED certified facility will incorporate many innovative educational elements. One of these elements will focus on having students study the environment through the adjacent wetlands, the LEED features incorporated in the construction, and the wildlife sanctuary as part of the curriculum.

Regarding the existing environmental conditions on the adjacent properties and any of the property the school district has purchased, it has always been our plan to thoroughly explore and define any contaminants which may affect the proposed project development and the safety and health of our students and staff. The school district received a letter and review memo on August 26, 2009 from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in response to our prior meetings and submission of phase environmental , site assessment , and site tests reports provided to FDEP. Our continued plan of action is to comply with all recommendations contained in the letter and review memo from FDEP.

To that end, a meeting was held today with our environmental consultants, Architect, civil engineer and district staff to identify and coordinate the next steps of addressing the environmental issues. Direction was given to our environmental consultant (Thompson engineering) to prepare a proposal to perform additional testing and site assessment to comply with the requirements and recommendations of the letter/review memo issued by FDEP on August 25,2009.

Based on the additional assessment findings, the school district will take any and all actions required to mitigate any contaminants found to be a threat to the safety and health of our students and staff in accordance with all state and federal regulations.
Hopefully, this communication addressees your concerns expressed in your email.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Ronald F. Peacock, Director
Facilities Planning Dept.

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School District property on Pace Blvd.

Today, I received the following letter from Chasidy Hobbs of UWF's environmental studies department:

Good day! First, I would like to commend SDEC on the plan to build a LEED certified elementary school, way to be a leader in our community!! (One of my best friends has taught at Ali Yneistra for several years and I have spent much time helping her to organize and prepare each year in that very old and moldy building, needless to say many folks are excited to be moving into a new building).

I am slightly disturbed, however, at the lack of environmental testing which has been completed as of today on the Pace Blvd. property. As I am sure you are all aware a Phase I environmental assessment was completed and a Phase II assessment was then performed based on the findings in the Phase I. However, the Phase I did not mention the fact that creosote laden poles and PCB filled transformers were stored on and/or adjacent to the site which the school plans to build on. Therefore the Phase II assessment did not address these pollutants, in other words there was no testing to see if these pollutants are on the property. Why SDEC’s environmental consultant missed or overlooked this important information is disturbing though not something I can address.

What was tested for and found, based on the Phase I, were PAH’s and these pollutants were found only on the property owned by Escambia County. Therefore, a “case” has been opened by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the County property; I have been following closely the actions of the Department of Environmental Protections in this case. On August 25th the DEP sent a letter to the County which stated: “based on review of the available information and the previous activities in and around the properties in question, additional assessment is warranted” and those contaminants of concern which additional assessment is warranted are: Benzo(a)Pyrene TEQ, arsenic, Pentachlorophenol, Cresol and PCBs.

Please do not confuse this email as an allegation that the SDEC property is contaminated! Rather, as an environmental scientist and a concerned citizen I am writing to state that these contaminants of concern are highly toxic and NOT something we want on/under a playground for small children. In fact we have already moved a school due to finding some of these pollutants on site (Brown Barge). I know that SDEC is dedicated to helping to provide an excellent education for the children in Escambia County, I hope that SDEC (and the City of Pensacola!) will have the same dedication to the health and safety of the students and teachers coming from Ali Yneistra and Hallmark by following the guidelines DEP has given to Escambia County.

It will be much less expensive to test now and find nothing than it would be to test later and find something. I encourage SDEC to make the tough, yet obviously right, choice to thoroughly test the Pace Blvd. property before beginning construction. I look forward to hearing that SDEC has initiated this additional testing warranted in order to be confident that the property SDEC plans to build on is not polluted.

Chasidy Hobbs
Advisor and Instructor
Department of Environmental Studies
University of West Florida

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Sacred Heart stormwater assessment

Recently, a constituent of mine inquired about Sacred Heart's stormwater assessment fee. I raised the issue with City Manager Al Coby and he sent me the following response:

Councilman,

Yes, Sacred Heart does pay storwater fees. In FY '09 under the name of Sacred Heart (not including affiliated operations) the payment was $16,513.

Al Coby

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Sacred Heart removed 50 inch + tree

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

At the last City Council meeting on August 27, I asked Mr. Robert Emmanuel, who represents Sacred Heart, about a large tree that Sacred Heart removed around January 2008. The tree, which had a diameter of more than 50 inches, was removed to make way for a sidewalk next to a planned extension of College Boulevard between Airport and Bayou. Neither the road extension or sidewalk were ever constructed.

According to City Manager Al Coby, "The City partnered with Sacred Heart as required to secure a $1,000,000 EDA grant for construction of the road. The City processed the tree removal permit as we would with any other application. However, Sacred Heart was responsible for the construction project including retaining the contractor. Had the road been built, the City would have accepted as a public roadway."

After further investigation, I found out that the new Ronald McDonald House on Bayou was built on property purchased from Sacred Heart. Representatives from Sacred Heart assured the Ronald McDonald House organization that the College Boulevard extension would be built. As I understand it today, the grant will not be funded and this road project has been put on hold indefinitely.

I find it disturbing that all the trees in the path of the planned road extension were clear-cut before funding was secured. Furthermore, Sacred Heart could have easily moved the planned roadway/sidewalk just a few feet in order to save a 50-inch plus tree, but chose not to. Mr. Emmanuel claimed that Sacred Heart Health System is a "good steward of the environment." Their unnecessary removal of trees, including the 50-inch plus tree pictured below, directly contradicts that. Now, under the new language that Sacred Heart was able to get into the tree ordinance at the last minute, their tree mitigation costs are even less than they were under the old tree ordinance.

One councilmember said that no version of the tree ordinance would save trees at the Sacred Heart campus, because they will develop their property either way. However, what should be understood is that due to the new cap for hospitals, fewer mitigation dollars will be paid into the tree fund, resulting in less funding for new tree planting in our community.

Recently a constituent asked me if Sacred Heart is paying a stormwater assessment fee. I have emailed City Manager Al Coby and am awaiting his response.

Below are several photographs of what remained of the 50-inch plus tree which I mentioned above. After Emerald Coastkeeper attorney Matt Schultz inquired about the removal of this tree, the stump was covered by concrete debris as is shown in the last photo.

I would like to state that I do appreciate all the good work that Sacred Heart does in our community, as well as the jobs they create. While I am disappointed in they way in which they chose to participate in the tree ordinance debate, I look forward to working with them to ensure their success in our community while continuing to protect our environment.








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City board openings

Sunday, August 30, 2009

There are openings on several city boards and City Council is now accepting applications for nominations. If you wish to be considered for one of these boards, you must complete an application, submit it to the city clerk, and then contact a Council member to be nominated.

The city clerk's contact information is on the city web site.

Potential applicants can contact me at ljohnson@ci.pensacola.fl.us about nominations.

Board openings:

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Bayou Boulevard resurfacing update

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I recently contacted Mr. Jim DeVries with the Florida Department of Transportation for an update on the Bayou Boulevard resurfacing project:

Councilman Johnson,
As we discussed yesterday, the FDOT opened bids on August 13th for the resurfacing of Bayou Blvd. from 12th Ave. to Firestone Blvd. The apparent low bidder was APAC Southeast Inc. The department's estimated construction time for this project is 80 days. Construction should begin in late fall.

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Save the Downtown Post Office

Friday, August 14, 2009

I received the following email from Ashley with the Downtown Improvement Board. If you are concerned about the possible closure of the Downtown Post Office, please attend the town hall meeting next Tuesday, and show your support by filling out this online form.

Save the Downtown Post Office

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Extreme Makeover: Home Edition casting in Pensacola

I received the following email from the television program "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" which is looking for a family in the Pensacola area to participate in an upcoming episode.

Do you know a family whose home deserves an Extreme Makeover? If so, the producers of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition want to hear from you.

Ty Pennington and his crew have been all across the map and now they want to drive that famous bus to Florida! “We are looking for the deserving people and inspiring families that America can really root for,” says Casting Supervisor Morgan Fahey.

What does it take to be picked for an Extreme Makeover? "We're looking for those special people who have amazing strength of character and never give up. Whether it’s keeping their chin up in really tough circumstances or going out of their way to help others. We want to help people whose stories have really affected their community or made a big difference in other people's lives.” Fahey added: "There are a lot of people who are heroes to those around them because of the way they inspire others and quietly serve their communities on a daily basis."

The Extreme Makeover: Home Edition producers are looking for families whose homes desperately need to be rebuilt. “We really want to help families whose homes present major problems for the family, those big issues that affect the family's quality of life on a daily basis. We want to find deserving people who just don't have the resources, ability, or time to fix those serious issues without our help.” To be eligible, a family must own their own single family home and be able to show producers how a makeover will make a huge difference in their lives.

Interested families should e-mail a short description of their family story to: castnorthfl@gmail.com

Nominations may be submitted by the family or by a member of their community. Each nomination must include the names and ages of every member of the household along with a description of the major challenges within the home. Anyone submitting a nomination should be sure to explain why the nominated family is deserving, heroic, and/or a great role model for their community. If possible, include a recent photo of the family. All nominations must include a contact phone number.

The deadline for nominations is August 21, 2009. Don’t delay!

For more information on how to apply please visit our website at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/xtremehome/index?pn=apply

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Libary board openings

Monday, July 27, 2009

At our August 23 meeting, the City Council will appoint two citizens to the West Florida Public Library Board. Applicants must be residents of the city. In order to be considered for appointment, citizens must complete an application, available at the city web site or attached below, and then ask a City Council member for nomination.

Citizens can contact me about nominations via my email address, at ljohnson@ci.pensacola.fl.us. Contact information for other Council members is available on the city web site.

Nominations West Florida Public Library Board

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Smart Growth and Natural & Cultural Features

Friday, July 24, 2009

Please see the following information from Mary Gutierrez with the West Florida Regional Planning Council:



Paving over our ecological and heritage resources is not smart growth.


Natural and cultural diversity is the basis of healthy communities. Protecting natural ecosystems provides clean air, water and soil and healthier people, wildlife, plants, and food. Protecting cultural features can provide the long-term memory of a region that enables communities to be healthy.

The principles of smart growth promote the conservation, restoration and protection of natural and cultural features by removing development pressure from these lands through the infill and densification of existing communities.

Unfortunately most planning and development decisions are based on short-term economic decisions based on political boundaries, when what is needed are decisions based on a long-term ecosystem and watershed approach.

In many communities, new developments on previous greenfield sites (forests, farms, wetlands, 'vacant' land) are being touted as 'smart growth' if they offer certain attributes such as affordable housing, proximity to shopping, or transit. In order for developments to be considered 'smart growth' they must adhere to all 10 Smart Growth Principles, including the protection and enhancement of our natural and cultural features.

The conservation of our natural and cultural features provides benefits to the community and to the larger region. Critical areas that need attention include:
  • Streams, rivers, lakes, bogs, and wetlands
  • Farmland (whether currently cultivated or not)
  • Old growth forests, grasslands, and other environmentally sensitive areas
  • Wildlife habitat, especially for species at risk
  • Historic cultural features (for example: First Nation archaeological sites, pictographs, lighthouses, historical fishing and logging camp sites, shipwrecks, spiritual and/or religious ceremonial sites)


Benefits of Protecting Our Green Spaces


The ecological footprint of a human settlement is much larger than what we see. Healthy communities are dependent on the creation and protection of green space because they provide:


  • Essential ecosystem services (air and water)
  • Climate moderation (temperature and wind control, noise and other pollutant filtration)
  • Movement and absorption of rain through unpaved areas
  • Support of our eco-tourism industry
  • Increases in local property values


Strategies for Protecting Natural and Cultural Features


  • Identify green infrastructure corridors and amenities
  • Identify key historic sites and buildings
  • Create a framework for protecting ecosystem connectivity through corridors for both recreation and animal migration, and buffers between town centers
  • Incorporate natural landscaping principles on public and private property
  • Promote the use of heritage covenants or conservation easements on private land
  • Create and support land trusts by community stewardship organizations
  • Promoting “Planned Giving” programs that directs donors to conservation organizations.


Governments Can


  • Use urban or rural containment boundaries and greenbelts to connect and protect green spaces
  • Provide incentives to developers to encourage higher densities to preserve green spaces.
  • Promote the "re-greening" open areas in urban settings such as street medians and rooftops
  • Start a Heritage Designation for significant sites and buildings
  • Incorporate Development Permit Area zoning for critical buffer areas between urban and rural areas
  • Relax zoning restrictions to allow use of natural features such as wetlands and ponds to control stormwater


Citizens Can


  • Identify, map, and protect environmentally sensitive areas during planning and visioning exercises
  • Support containment boundaries and greenbelts around your community
  • Use tools such as conservation or heritage covenants and land trusts on your property
  • Visit and celebrate greenways, parks and public open spaces
  • Support environmental regulations and by-laws that protect green spaces, natural systems, fish, habitat and wildlife


For other Smart Growth practices and ideas visit the THINK GREEN segment at www.wfrpc.org/environmental-education.

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President Clinton at Waterkeeper Alliance Conference

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Former President Bill Clinton recently spoke at the annual conference of the Waterkeeper Alliance:

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Tree ordinance stakeholder meeting

Sunday, July 19, 2009

From Elizabeth McWilliams with Emerald Coastkeeper:

Dear Friends of Emerald Coastkeeper:

Now is your opportunity to make your voice heard! Help save Pensacola's Heritage Trees.

There will be a meeting for the stakeholders and all interested parties on Wednesday, July 22, 2009, at 9:00 a.m., Mason Conference Room, 2nd Floor City Hall to discuss the proposed Tree Ordinance. This will hopefully be the last meeting before the Council votes on this issue. It is important to be at this meeting to show your support for the proposed changes that will serve to protect and preserve our trees for future generations.

After this meeting, we will notify you when we know the date of the City Council Meeting wherein they will vote on the Coastkeeper's improved ordinance.

Please feel free to forward this email to others who may have an interest in the meeting.Come show City Council that Pensacola's Heritage Trees have a voice- yours!

Sincerely,
Elizabeth McWilliams
Director of Development
Emerald Coastkeeper
www.emeraldcoastkeeper.org

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Open seats on City boards

Thursday, July 16, 2009

There are openings on four City boards which the City Council will soon fill:

CIVIL SERVICE BOARD
The Civil Service Board is responsible for supervising and executing the provisions set forth in the City of Pensacola Civil Service Act and Rules and Regulations. The Civil Service Act provides for the methods and terms of employment for all classified service employees. The Board consists of three (3) members and three (3) alternates. One member and alternate are appointed by City Council; one member and alternate are elected by employees in the classified service and one member and alternate are appointed by the other two members.

At this time one (1) alternate position requires appointment by City Council for a term of two (2) years (expiring July 14, 2011). The members and alternates must be residents of the City. Regular meetings are held monthly on the second Wednesday at 10:00 am at City Hall.

ANYONE INTERESTED IN SERVING SHOULD CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK FOR AN APPLICATION OF INTEREST AND CONTACT A CITY COUNCIL MEMBER BY FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2009 (NOMINATION BY A COUNCIL MEMBER IS REQUIRED).

CODE ENFORCEMENT BOARD
The Code Enforcement Board is a quasi-judicial board established to provide a supplemental means of enforcing the provisions of the Code of the City of Pensacola. The Board has the authority to hold public hearings, to subpoena evidence and take testimony under oath; to issue orders having the force of law; to levy administrative fines; and to cause liens to be placed against a violator's property. The Board is composed of seven (7) members and two (2) alternates. Whenever possible, composition of the Board shall include an architect, a business owner, an engineer, a general contractor, a subcontractor, and a realtor.

At this time one (1) alternate position requires appointment by City Council (to fill an unexpired term) expiring September 30, 2010. Members and alternates must be residents of the City. Regular meetings are held monthly on the first Tuesday at 5:00 P.M. at City Hall.

ANYONE INTERESTED IN SERVING SHOULD CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK FOR AN APPLICATION OF INTEREST AND CONTACT A CITY COUNCIL MEMBER BY FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2009 (NOMINATION BY A COUNCIL MEMBER IS REQUIRED).

FIRE EDUCATION INCENTIVE BOARD
The Fire Education Incentive Board is charged with overseeing the operation of the Fire Education Incentive Program. The Board is composed of four (4) members of which two (2) are appointed by City Council.

At this time one (1) position requires appointment by City Council for an indefinite term. There are no residency or qualification requirements. Regular meetings are held quarterly at City Hall.

ANYONE INTERESTED IN SERVING SHOULD CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK FOR AN APPLICATION OF INTEREST AND CONTACT A CITY COUNCIL MEMBER BY FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2009 (NOMINATION BY A COUNCIL MEMBER IS REQUIRED).

ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
The Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews and grants or denies applications for variances, waivers, and special exceptions to the Land Development Code and hears and decides appeals when it is alleged that there is error in any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by an administrative officer in the enforcement of the Land Development Code. The Board is composed of nine (9) members appointed by City Council.

At this time one (1) alternate position requires appointment by City Council (to fill an unexpired term) expiring July 14, 2011. All members must be City residents or own property within the City. Regular meetings are held monthly on the third Wednesday at 3:00 P.M. at City Hall.

ANYONE INTERESTED IN SERVING SHOULD CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK FOR AN APPLICATION OF INTEREST AND CONTACT A CITY COUNCIL MEMBER BY FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2009 (NOMINATION BY A COUNCIL MEMBER IS REQUIRED).

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Emerald Coastkeeper Save Our Trees Campaign

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Next Tuesday evening, Emerald Coastkeeper will give a presentation on the City's proposed tree ordinance. Please see the following message from Elizabeth McWilliams:

Friends of Emerald Coastkeeper,

Please join us on Tuesday, July 14th at 5:30 pm in the back room of Dharma Blue for a presentation regarding the proposed tree ordinance for the City of Pensacola.

Executive Director, Carol Moore, will lead a discussion focusing on the significance of the ordinance.

Directly following the talk, we will host a letter writing campaign for those who choose to show their support of the ordinance.

Please spread the word to your friends, bring everyone who you think would be interested. The more letters we get out, the stronger our position.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth McWilliams
Director of Development
Emerald Coastkeeper
www.emeraldcoastkeeper.org
cell 850-221-9205

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Roger Scott Tennis Center upgrades

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The upgrades to the Roger Scott Tennis Center have broken ground this past Monday, June 29. Unfortunately, some trees must be removed in the process, but I have spoken with Parks & Recreation Director David Flaherty to ensure that any tree removal is kept to a minimum.

The additions include ten soft courts with underground irrigation, a bathroom facility including storage space, and 38 new parking spaces. The existing eighteen hard courts will be resurfaced, and a concession area will be added. The City should also acquire its temporary beer and wine license within 90 days, to provide additional service to patrons.

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. Funding for the project comes from a $1 million pledge from Escambia County. County Commissioner Grover Robinson led the effort to secure the funding. $350,000 comes from Local Option Sales Tax in the City of Pensacola. That effort was led by the Friends of Roger Scott, Mr. Joe Lovoy, and many others too numerous to name. I'd also like to thank City Manager Al Coby, Community Development Director Thaddeus Cohen, and Parks & Recreation Director David Flaherty.

The excitement being expressed by the tennis community has been overwhelming the past few days. With the larger facility, we'll be able to attract more tournaments, bringing more players and guests in from out-of-town, which will be an ecominc boost for our community, with added business for our hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. Our older residents will be able to take advantage of the softer tennis courts, which are easier on muscles and joints.

These upgrades will improve the quality of life for our residents and make our community an even more attractive place to live and play.





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Roger Scott Swimming Pool upgrades

The renovation of the Roger Scott Swimming Pool is well underway. Parks & Recreation staff recently met with the design team and have posted concept drawings to the City web site. I have also posted them below.

Parks & Recreation Director David Flaherty has also advised me that they will be updating the City website on a monthly basis to reflect the project's status.

In closing, I always welcome all input from all citizens. If you have any feedback or concerns about the project, feel free to contact me at ljohnson@ci.pensacola.fl.us.

Pool Concept

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Feedback on the Port

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ahead of City Council's goal setting session tomorrow, I received the following feedback from my constituent C. C. Elebash regarding the future of the Port of Pensacola:

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Goal Setting Session

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

City Council will hold a "goal setting session" with consultant Dr. Bob Lee this coming Tuesday, June 30. In preparation for the session, I was asked to submit my top five goals. They are listed below, in no particular order:

  • Green Community
    • Encouraging green buildings. Our city leading by example with all future buildings at least silver LEEDS certified.
    • Improving recycling efforts by recycling glass
    • Protecting our natural resources and environment
    • Adding beautification to our city's gateways. Beautifying our city. Planting more trees.
  • Increase Effort for Economic Development
    • Attracting the creative class to our community and keeping them here. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
  • Making Port profitable and mixed uses for our Port
  • Attracting Southwest Airlines to Pensacola
  • Adding More Mixed Residential Homes
    • Especially affordable housing
    • Increasing our city's population which should include annexation

What do you think the City's goals should be? I encourage my constituents to contact me with their input at ljohnson@ci.pensacola.fl.us.

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CFO Sink: "Save trees, rediscover your local library"

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink sent me a copy of her latest newsletter in which she encourages Floridians to rediscover their local libraries:

Summer is a great time for families to re-discover the local library. Library books are free, minimize resources since many people share one copy of a book, and are also a great resource for educating children about conservation, energy, and other important values. Why not make a family field trip to your local library, and check out some books by your favorite authors, or on subjects that will provide new ideas and inspirations?

Pensacola has a great library system. You can visit the Main Branch at 200 West Gregory Street, the Westside Branch at 1580 West Cervantes Street, or the Tryon Branch at 5740 North 9th Avenue on the PJC campus. There are also branches in southwest Escambia County and Century. For more information, see http://www.cityofpensacola.com/library.

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Coastkeeper planting day at Dead Man's Island

Monday, June 8, 2009

Please see the below message from Elizabeth Williams of Emerald Coastkeeper. If you can, please come out to help us in our continuing efforts to protect and maintain our natural resources.

On Sunday, June 14th, from 9 am to 1 pm, Emerald Coastkeeper will be planting seagrasses on the historic Dead Man's Island. We will meet at the Wayside Boat Ramp. If you are coming from Pensacola, go over the 3 Mile Bridge and as soon as you get off the bridge and into Gulf Breeze, we will be at that parking lot directly on your right.

It is an easy 15 minute kayak trip to the island, and there will also be volunteers with boats to shuttle those without kayaks.

Come for as long or as short as you like- this is fun for the whole family! Children ages 8 and up are welcome with an adult.

Bring yourself some water, sunscreen and a snack.

For more information about Dead Man's Island, visit their website:
http://deadmansisland.br33z3.com/

If you have any questions, please give me a call! Looking forward to seeing you there.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth McWilliams
Director of Development
Emerald Coastkeeper
http://www.emeraldcoastkeeper.org/
coastkeeperchips@emeraldcoastkeeper.org
o: 850-429-8422
c: 850-221-9205

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Salary shuts people out

Monday, June 1, 2009

Perhaps the biggest impact of the current Council member salary of $13,998 is that it results in a system that is really not open to the entire public. It closes off the system to many potential participants, particularly our young people. Emerging leaders who have an interest in serving in city government are likely shut out due to the low salary, because it would difficult to support yourself on such a salary, much less a family. Because Council service takes up so much time, and has the schedule that it does, it isn't really feasible in most cases to work another job.

I am fortunate enough to own my own business, and thereby can set my own hours and devote a significant portion of my time to Council service. Most other Council members are retired or have a spouse earning enough money to support their families — people who can afford to work a full-time job while earning a part-time salary.

I am confident that if Council member salaries are included in the forthcoming employee compensation study, we will discover that our Council members' compensation is significantly lower than cities of comparable size and character. I encourage citizens to consider whether or not we want to continue to support a system that is, again, not open to the entire public — and as always, I welcome your comments, which you can send to me via email at ljohnson@ci.pensacola.fl.us.

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Council member compensation

At the City Council meeting this past Thursday, I was disappointed when a citizen critcized the compensation which City Council members receive for their service.

Pensacola City Council members receive a salary of $13,998/year for what is for me a full-time job. I didn't run for City Council for the money, I ran because I had a desire to work to better my community. City Council has become my life. I wake up and go to sleep thinking about Council issues. Other than the various meeting I must attend, I spend a lot of time researching various issues, responding to constituents, and representing the City of Pensacola at various events. It is very much a full-time job.

In constrast, Escambia County Commissioners receive a yearly salary of $73,819, plus the use of an office and assistants, for performing many of the same duties for the county government. Escambia County School Board members receive a yearly salary for $35,938. ECUA Board members receive a yearly salary of $32,477.

Please see the below email from city resident and firefighter Larry Porto concerning the comments made at last Thursday's meeting:

From: Lawrence Porto
Sent: Sunday, May 31, 2009 11:49 AM
To: Al Coby; City Council
Subject: Benifits study

At Thursday nights Council meeting I was offended by the browbeating the Council had to endure from members of the Public concerning the compensation Council receives for the long hours of research, unending phone calls, tedious meetings and difficult decisions that go with your position. To accuse you of being over compensated is unfair and inaccurate, but I realize there are probably many others out there that hold that opinion.
I am in my 30th year with the Fire Department, and in that time I can remember only one pay increase for Council, and that was from 12 thousand to 14 thousand a year and happened several years ago. And compairing Councils compensation to that of the Escambia County Commissioners for virtually the same job is reveling. With the idea of dispelling that misguided Public opinion, I will ask Mary Ann Stalcup to include Councils compensation in the Benefit Study that was approved at Thursday's meeting. I am confident it will show Council is not over compensated.

Sincerly yours in Public service,
Larry Porto

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Coastkeeper Spring Newsletter

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Emerald Coastkeeper's spring newsletter is now available online. I have embedded it below for your convenience.

EC Spring Newsletter

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Beach clean-up

As many of you know, I am passionate about environmental issues and in keeping with those interests I serve as a board member of Emerald Coastkeeper.

This Saturday, Emerald Coastkeeper is hosting a beach clean-up:

Saturday, May 30th, 2009, from 8 am to noon, Emerald Coastkeeper will be hosting a Beach Clean-Up on Pensacola Beach. We will meet at the parking lot furthest west on Pensacola Beach towards Ft. Pickens. Look for our banner! We will provide trash bags, water and gloves. People of all ages are welcome. This event is free and open to the public, so please bring friends. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you for your support,
Elizabeth McWilliams
Cell 850-221-9205
coastkeeperchips@emeraldcoastkeeper.org
www.emeraldcoastkeeper.org

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Library funding

Monday, May 11, 2009

Last week I had the pleasure of running into Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson at the ribbon-cutting of Navy Federal's new LEED-certified building. We dicussed the possibility of Escambia County contributing funding to the new downtown library project so that we may build a first-class, showcase facility.

I have sent Commissioner Robinson the below letter to follow up with him and the rest of the commission and continue the discussion on funding the library. I look forward to working with Escambia County and all shareholders to ensure we construct a top-notch library.
LBJ to Robinson

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